Vegas isn't just The Strip. Not even close.
When we made the decision to move out here, I didn't necessarily think I would be sitting at slot machines with a baby on my hip all day, but I certainly didn't think I would be a woman of the mountains on the regular. But, what people don't always realize is that Vegas is home to some pretty spectacular mountains if you're willing to venture out.
Red Rock Canyon is absolutely worth the 30 minute drive from The Strip, especially if you're not used to desert hiking. It's so picturesque, with the rocks beaming red, cacti laying low, and a typically bright blue sky to contrast it all. There are hikes throughout the canyon that range in difficulty, but here are some great ones to do with kids, the walking and the free-loaders (like mine).
Before you hit the trails, just some safety tips to note.
1. When you're in the desert, every direction can start to look the same, so be sure to stay on the trails. The people at Red Rock Canyon haven't done the best job at marking the trails (sorry), so sometimes this is more difficult to achieve, so stay vigilant. Often times, the trail is braided and multiple paths lead you to the same spot.
2. Call me over-cautious, but when I hike, I bring a headlamp with me. I have this one (close to the Cadillac of headlamps (nbd), but there are cheaper options out there like this one). If you don't have or don't want a headlamp, just make sure your phone is charged up and put it on airplane mode to conserve battery. That way, you at least have a flashlight if you need it.
3. You should also bring plenty of water. This goes for any hike anywhere, but in the desert, it's super dry and you'll want your thirst quenched more often.
4. You should also be aware that Red Rock Canyon is at a higher altitude than The Strip which means it's about 15 degrees colder. This is not a problem in the summer months (it's a blessing), but in the winter, it's pretty chilly, so be sure to bring some warm clothing.
5. And last but not least, gas up! A truly annoying and completely frustrating feature of Red Rocks is that most of the hikes are on the Scenic Loop road, which is a 13 mile, 35 mile an hour road that is one-way. So, even if the hike you want to do is at the very beginning of the road, you have to complete the entire loop to leave. If you are a person of power that is reading this, can you change that for us? Thanks.
Alright, I'm not your mother, too. I can stop giving you the safety lecture and give you the info that you actually came here to find.
This is one of my favorites. There's a strong possibility that it's because I don't have to drive the entire Scenic Loop Road (see above). This one is past the turnout to go into Red Rock Canyon National Park, which means that you don't have to pay park fees to enter either! Woop!
The hike is an almost unnoticeable incline to get there. The big hurrah about this hike is the seasonal waterfall during the spring months (or after it rains), but if there's no waterfall, there's always a some water to splash around in. The signage is not on point to get to the waterfall unfortauntely, but it's really not hard to find if you listen to me very closely (said in my best Liam Neeson voice a la "Taken")
From where you park, walk along the extremely well marked trail. You'll walk about a mile before the trail forks into 2 pretty distinct paths (there are no signs). My instincts are always to go left into the canyon, but right is right in this case. Walk about 100 feet and you'll see a nice big tree that sticks out to the otherwise short vegetation. Take the little path down a little ways and you'll see the watering hole and the waterfall if it's the right time of year.
When it's hot, a little dip in ice cold water is just what you need.
If you go left instead of turning right on the fork, you walk into the canyon and follow the creek along the way. It's super beautiful and it's mine and Zay;s go-to hike. The trail is braided and there's a lot of different routes you can take to get into the canyon, but my recommendation would be to stay above the brush. It just makes hiking a lot easier, and there are fewer plants with spikes that can hurt you. There are great spots to stop and take a dip along the creek, if you ever want to veer off and head down to the water.
This one is a little baby hike. It's easy, pretty flat, and less than a mile out and back. It's great for kids just starting out hiking on their own, and beautiful for parents who are just strolling, This one is almost impossible to veer off the trail since it's lined with rocks. What's great is that there is a seasonal waterfall (spring) that's cool for everyone to see.
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What's the deal with all these creeks (in my best Seinfeld voice).
This one is super cool and somehow very different from the landscape of the First Creek hike even though it's close by. The trailhead for Pine Creek is at the end of the Scenic Loop Road. I'll stop being a hater of the loops and just tell you to enjoy the views on the ride. It's absolutely gorgeous.
This badass baby-wearing mama right here.
This trail goes into the canyon, and there is a lot more vegetation than a lot of the other hikes in Red Rocks. The trail is 5 miles up and back and is labeled as moderate, so if you have a little hiker, make sure they eat their Wheaties...and if you have a little one on your back, make sure you eat your Wheaties. This, like the others, ends at a seasonal waterfall which is awesome for kids. If you don't want to do the full hike, there a spots where you cross the creek along the trail where you can stop, throw rocks, and eat your lunch.
This one is our go-to hike when we have people visiting. It is a really great intro to Red Rocks and the sites are beautiful. You start on a sandy path and eventually start walking up the the bright red rocks and come out to see a view of Vegas. This one is 2.5 miles there are back, but it can get steep and sometimes scrambling is involved. I have done this many times with our toddler on my back, but if you go for it, just make sure you're sure of your feet. This is one where there are a million different trails to get to the end point, but it's hard to get lost because you're walled in by the rock canyon.
It's truly beautiful, and it would be the #1 hike I would recommend to strong hikers.
If you visit us, it's a pretty good guarantee that you'll do the Calico Tanks hike.
Have you hiked in Red Rocks? What's your favorite hike? Comment below!